Utilisation of indigenous fruit by rural communities in Mwanza District, Malawi

Chilimampunga, Francis Harvey (2002-03)

Thesis (MScFor)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Deforestation in Malawi is said to reach 2.3% per annum and negatively affects agricultural production, the backbone of the country's economy. High dependence on indigenous wood for sale as fuelwood or charcoal by rural communities due to poverty largely contributes to this deforestation. Women and children suffer most because they spend more time collecting firewood than men, affecting other activities like child-care and education. The study, aimed at investigating ways to alleviate deforestation by increasing rural people's economic benefits from non-destructive indigenous fruit utilisation, was conducted in Mwanza District from February to June 2001. The district's customary forests which contain a wide variety of wild fruit species are currently deforested due mainly to charcoal production. Five out of 16 villages facing deforestation were randomly chosen by the lottery method. Group, individual and key informant interviews focused on the utilisation of preferred fruit species by communities while participatory resource assessment was used to determine availability and distribution of fruit trees. A market survey to assess fruit trade in the country was conducted in Balaka, Blantyre, Mangochi, Mwanza and Zomba Districts in early June 2001. Twenty-six wild fruit species were found to be utilised by villagers in the study area but Adansonia digitata (Baobab) was the most commonly found near villages and the most preferred fruit by 90% of respondents. Other preferred species were Tamarindus indica (Tamarind), Diospyros kirkii, Flacourtia indica and Vangueria infausta. Most fruit trees except for baobab were found to be of small size classes because of being young stems regenerating while others were shrubs. The poor largely depended on fruit as a meal and for sale. Mainly children and women sold baobab and tamarind within the villages while only men sold fruit at distant markets for more income. Middlemen largely benefited from fruit sales compared to villagers who sold at low prices and lacked marketing information. Fruit rot affected retailers outside the study area. Tree climbing to harvest fruit was mainly done by boys and destructive harvesting methods were associated with commercial use. Large, sweet tasting fruit were mainly chosen by rural communities for subsistence use. Land clearance, mast fruiting, perishability and seasonality of fruit seemed to have affected harvest both for subsistence and for sale. However, 89% of households owned fruit trees in homesteads and agricultural fields, said to be more protected than in communal lands with open access. Preferred wild fruit trees were rarely cut by the communities. Local fruit processing, mainly by women, included porridge and juice making and fruit drying while careful storage enabled baobab fruit to be stored for up to a year. Wild fruit plays an important role in the lives of rural communities mainly the poor. Communities attach value to the preferred fruit species but it is difficult to convince most of them to sell wild fruit unless value is added and price incentives are initiated. Regular marketing information could be provided to rural communities and policy makers should set fruit pricing guidelines to create price incentives. Domestication of the preferred fruit trees should be encouraged for continuous fruit supply. Simple fruit processing technologies for commercial purpose could be initiated for women mostly. Research is needed to determine sustainable harvesting levels of wild fruit and ways for participatory monitoring of the levels and harvesting methods used.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ontbossing in Malawi beloop 2.3% per jaar, wat beteken dat landbouproduksie, die ruggraat van die land se ekonomie, negatief geaffekteer word. Wat grootliks bydra tot hierdie ontbossing is dat die plattelandse gemeenskappe as gevolg van armoede hoogs afhanklik is van inheemse hout wat as brandhout of as houtskool verkoop word. Vroue en kinders ly die meeste omdat hulle meer tyd as mans spandeer om vuurmaakhout bymekaar te maak. Dit affekteer ander aktiwiteite soos kindersorg en opvoeding. Hierdie studie het ten doelom maniere te ondersoek waarvolgens ontbossing verlig kan word deur mense op die platteland se ekonomiese voordele uit die benutting van inheemse vrugte te vermeerder sonder dat daar enige omgewingskade aangebring word. Die studie is uitgevoer in die Mwanza Distrik vanaf Februarie 2001 tot Junie 2001. Die distrik se inheemse bosse wat 'n wye verskeidenheid wilde vrugtespesies bevat, word tans ontbos - hoofsaaklik as gevolg van die produksie van houtskool. Vyf uit die 16 dorpies wat ontbossing in die gesig staar, is op 'n lukrake wyse met die loterymetode gekies. In die onderhoude met groepe, individue, en sleutelinformante is gefokus op die benutting van vrugtespesies wat deur die gemeenskappe verkies word. Hulpbronevaluering is gebruik om die beskikbaarheid en verspreiding van vrugtebome te bepaal. Die gemeenskap is by hierdie evaluering betrek. Marknavorsing om vrugtehandel in die land te evalueer, is vroeg in Junie 2001 in die Balaka, Blantyre, Mangochi, Mwanza en Zomba distrikte gedoen. In die studie is bevind dat die inwoners van die area wat bestudeer is 26 wilde vrugtespesies benut. Adansonia digitata (Baobab/Kremetartboom) is egter die meeste naby die dorpies aangetref, en is deur 90% van die respondente as hulle gunsteling vrug aangedui. Ander gewilde spesies is Tamarindus indica (Tamarinde/Suurdadelboom), Diospyros kirkii, Flacourtia indica en Vangueria infausta. Die meeste vrugtebome, behalwe die baobab, val in die laer klasse wat grootte betref, omdat dit die jong lote is wat regenereer, terwyl ander struike is. Die arm mense is grootliks afhanklik van vrugte as 'n maaltyd en as verkoopsartikels. Hoofsaaklik kinders en vroue verkoop baobab- en tamarindevrugte in die dorpies, terwyl vrugte by verafgeleë markte slegs deur mans vir 'n groter inkomste verkoop word. Die middelman trek grootliks voordeel uit vrugteverkope, in vergelyking met die inwoners van die dorpies wat vrugte teen lae pryse verkoop as gevolg van 'n tekort aan bemarkingsinligting. Kleinhandelaars buite die studie-area is deur vrugteverrotting geaffekteer. Dit is hoofsaaklik seuns wat die bome klim om vrugte te oes, en destruktiewe oesmetodes is met kommersiële gebruik geassosieer. Plattelandse gemeenskappe verkies hoofsaaklik groot, soet vrugte vir bestaansgebruik. Dit wil voorkom of grondopruiming, die vrugvorming van byvoorbeeld akkers (mast fruiting), die bederfbaarheid en seisoensgebondenheid van vrugte, die oes affekteer vir bestaansgebruik sowel as vir verkope. Vrugtebome word egter deur 89% van die huishoudings besit en die bome by hierdie huise en in landbouvelde word beter beskerm as dié in gemeenskaplike lande met vrye toegang. Die gemeenskappe kap selde hulle gunsteling wilde vrugtebome uit. Plaaslike vrugteverwerking, hoofsaaklik deur vroue, sluit in die maak van pap en sap, asook die droog van vrugte, terwyl sorgvuldige bewaring daartoe kan lei dat baobabvrugte vir tot 'n jaar lank gebêre kan word. Wilde vrugte speel 'n belangrike rol in die lewens van plattelandse gemeenskappe, veral vir die armes. Die gemeenskappe heg waarde aan hulle gunstelingvrugtespesies, maar dit is moeilik om die meeste te oortuig om wilde vrugte te verkoop - behalwe as waarde bygevoeg word en prysaansporings ingestel word. Gereelde bemarkingsinligting kan aan plattelandse gemeenskappe voorsien word, en beleidbepalers behoort riglyne vir vrugtepryse daar te stelom prysaansporings te skep. Die mense behoort aangemoedig te word om hulle gunstelingvrugtebome by hulle huise te plant om 'n voortdurende vrugtevoorraad te verseker. Eenvoudige vrugteverwerkingtegnologie kan vir kommersiële doeleindes vir hoofsaaklik vroue ingestel word. Navorsing is nodig om volhoubare oesvlakke van wilde vrugte te bepaal, sowel as maniere vir die deelnemende monitering van hierdie vlakke en die oesmetodes wat gebruik word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/53211
This item appears in the following collections: